OAU clashes with Ibadan as Nigerian football gets lifeline
The quest for fresh stars for the national teams got a lifeline at the weekend when promoters of the maiden Higher Institution Football League (HIFL) held the draws for the competition in Lagos. It is a competition, which is expected to expose talented footballers in the country’s universities to clubs’ coaches and scouts, who will turn them to ready materials for the national teams.
And there was no bigger clash to highlight the competition than the fixture, which has pitched University of Ibadan against Obafemi Awolowo University in one of the preliminary matches of the event.
The HiFL is a proprietary asset created by Pace Sports and Entertainment Marketing Ltd, and managed in partnership with Nigeria University Games.
In the draws witnessed by captains of industry, football administrators and many sports enthusiasts at the Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, the league’s pioneer 16 institutions were paired into two zones, Sahel and Coastal, with the two zones split into two leading to schools from the Northern part of the country pooled in Sahel A and B, while those from the Southern part would play in Coastal A and B.
In the Sahel A, Bayero University Kano Stallions will meet Usman Danfodio University Sultans, while Unilorin Warriors and ABU Nobles will fight it out in the other game.
Sahel B will see Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Brave hearts meeting Unijos Highlanders, while UNIMAID Desert Warriors will face University of Agriculture Makurdi Tillers in the other game.
There are two potential great clashes in Coastal A, where UNILAG Marines and UNIBEN Royals will battle for supremacy, with UI Pioneers taking on OAU Giants.
The four games in Coastal B pitched UNN Lions against UNICAL Malabites and UNIPORT Sharks against DELSU Titans.
Speaking during the draw, former board member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Shaibu Gara Gombe said the competition would herald a new dawn in university games and also improve on the game of football in the country.
“Despite the challenges we are facing in the country especially in our football, something good must come out of it and that’s the HiFL,” Gara-Gombe said.
“I have to say a big thank you to the management of NUGA and Nigeria University Commission, for buying into our idea of having a league among universities in the country.
“This is an experimental league with 16 teams and by next year, we are going to expand it with zonal qualifications involving more schools in the country.”
According to the former Gombe State FA chairman, they have put all machineries in place to have a successful league championship.
The first legs of the games have been scheduled for August 1 and 8, while the second legs will take place on August 15 and 22 across the two zones, Sahel and Coastal.